LGBTQ, abortion, civil rights, and several other equality protests are currently at the doorstep of America. The fabric of these issues is the systemic poison of one-way thinking.
Parenting and education have taught me the value of being open-minded. By trusting my recovery process, I have opened my mind and broken a generational cycle of one-way thinking.
“Do as I say and not as I do!” Those were the famous words I heard growing up in my household. I was raised in what would be considered an old school household. Physical discipline was the standard, and having an opinion was entirely out of the question. I wholeheartedly believe my Mother and grandfather just followed suit of what they were taught. Even in recent conversations with my Mother, she stated it was muscle memory when it came to parenting. My family is built on Christian principles of spare thy rod, spoil the child. While I agree that discipline is vital, I now understand being opened minded about the discipline is also essential. My first attempt at parenting I was the same way, and the children were well behaved. One would think that experience would prove enough to continue its use. However, it was my second attempt at parenting in recovery that changed my mind. I entered a home where I was parenting adults, and I had to switch my styles. I tired heavily to rely on the parenting I was taught and enacted in my first attempt only to be left frustrated. As I began to grow in my recovery process, it was clear I needed to be more open-minded. I began to execute different procedures when I interacted with them and garnered positive results. I learned that the greatest parents are the best listeners. Within a short time, my daughter began to open up to me and trust me with information. I explained to my wife that we now had a new mission. During my childhood, the Sunday dinner table held the most respected voices of my family. My grandfather was a great man that blessed us with impeccable wisdom that we all carried throughout our lives. Besides him, my Mother, aunts, and uncles also shared valuable gifts of thought that help me to this day. As significant as this wisdom was the key element missing was open-mindedness. The principles of recovery have taught me how to change my parenting at Sunday dinner. I have learned how to respect all ways of thinking so that everyone’s voice is empowered. Even though I may disagree with my daughter, she is not to be shamed, guilted, or bullied for her thoughts. I am not to weaponize parenting or biblical principles to cover for my ego. In my opinion, parenting is the hardest job on the planet. I have learned everything in parenting by regret. Having parental rights is entirely different from the skill set needed to be a great parent. Recovery opened my mind to trust, acceptance, and faith, which changed my relationship with my daughter. I am grateful to report my Sunday dinner table is filled with different perspectives, all that are empowered and respected.
I used to be ashamed of my mental illness and felt my story should be kept in the rooms of the program. Honestly, I felt that sharing my story would disrespect everything I was taught about the rooms of recovery. I had a poisoned, brainwashed, one-track mind that was heading me down a busy but not productive road. I had all the theatrics of a proper program, but I was not growing as a person. Being clean but not recovering is a deadly road for a person with mental health and substance use disorder. College is where this thinking began to break. I could no longer spend all my time at different meetings because I had homework to finish. I began speaking with other students who had other problems in life. They showed me different techniques they used to deal with issues. I learned how to balance family, my recovery, and schooling all at once. College is also where my speaking company came to life. My story began to circulate with the administration at the college. My hard work turned into the fruits of high honors, and they began investing in me as a student. They funded me on trips to conferences where I presented workshops on mental health, substance use disorder, and my story. These conferences are where schools offered me speaking engagements, and the rest is history. It became clear that I had a speaking gift with a story the world wanted to hear. I began to feel empowered and found my passion. Education changed the course of my life all because I was open-minded to trying a new recovery route.
The cruelest dictators in history all share in a common theme: one-way thinking. There are thousands of religions and institutions that promote they are the best with the understanding of thinking one-way. How far has that gotten us? In 2020, we are in the midst of a civil rights movement demanding answers for equality and equity. How long will it take the world to wake up to be open-minded? What generation will demand that everyone is equal and different perspectives are welcomed. I want a world in which all backgrounds and ideals are considered to every voice is empowered. Imagine a world in which we all worked together for the good of the cause. How many diseases could be cured and new inventions made for the next generation? Let us not poison the next generation with one-way thinking but instead use a recovery process to promote the beauty of open-mindedness.